Allison Mueller/ Winonan
Coming off of their seventh straight All Minnesota Tournament Championship, the Winona State University’s women’s rugby team, the Black Katts, defeated Gustavus Adolphus 113-12 in the first conference game of the season.
Senior Kathryn Zahn, a loose head prop position in the forward pack, said the All Minnesota Tournament is her favorite tournament.
“It helps me realize what kinds of things I need to be working on personally throughout the season,” Zahn said.
Head coach Joshua Krzewinski and assistant coach Nick Pronold said the Black Katts used the All Minnesota Tournament to see what areas the team needed to improve on before facing Gustavus.
“Nick and I assessed our matches from last weekend and we wanted to work on our body position in contact so we can win the ball quicker in our rucks, clean up our scrums and lineouts to put more pressure on the defense from set pieces and as always be a bit more disciplined on defense and reduce penalties,” Krzewinski said.
The Black Katts stepped onto their home field on Saturday to execute against Gustavus what they had worked on in practice all week.
Senior scrumhalf Georgia Porter said home games generate a lot of excitement among the players through supportive fans.
“It always gets your adrenalin pumping hearing fans on the sideline cheering for you,” Porter said.
Kathryn Dries, a junior flyhalf, agreed with her teammate and said, “It is always enjoyable to show off all of our hard work and dedication to those who mean the most to us. It also gives us a great chance to introduce our Winona community to the wonderful game of rugby.”
Krzewinski said he and Pronold tried some of the girls in different positions against Gustavus due to a few injuries and to create lineups that allow for the players to complement each other’s abilities.
This change-up included moving prop Lanoira Duhart to inside center, creating a tough time for the opposing defense and has allowed for the Black Katts’ outside center, wings and fullback to create overloads. Krzewinski said the team is calling this the “hybrid” offense. It gave Kourtney Kavajecz, Ashley Pomeroy, Amanda Custode and Zahn the chance to display their speed and open field skills.
In the first half alone the Black Katts scored 91 points and prevented Gustavus from getting on the board.
Zahn scored first on a try followed by tries from Lachen Esters, Nada Nassif, Duhart, Lindsey Bucki, Georgia Porter, Nikki Linberg and Tori Langhans. Their tries, combined with eight conversions from Duhart, rounded out the Black Katt’s 91-point lead going into the second half.
Freshmen Megan Wolff, Hanah Demars, KJ Fisher and Alexis Jensen played the field in the second half along with Kalene Hill at flyhalf.
Demars and Wolff each scored a try along with Bucki and Demars. A conversion from Rachel Thompson boosted the Black Katts to 113 points.
Gustavus snuck in two tries and a conversion toward the end of the game, getting on the board and ending the match 113-12.
Krzewinski said the Black Katts used the match against Gustavus to prepare for Mankato, a tough match they face this week.
“Mankato has been our toughest in state competition the last few years,” Krzewinski said. “They are recruiting hard, elevating their program each year and working real hard to win one against us.”
The Black Katts will see what their rival is made of as they go head-to-head against Mankato on Saturday.